Art, cultural programming boosted with Mott grants

— Fifty years ago, Flint’s ambitious goal of creating one of the country’s first cultural districts was on its way to becoming a reality after more than $20 million was raised from community donors, including the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which today announced its continued commitment to the Flint Cultural Center with grants totaling more than $3.2 million.

The one-year, general operating grants include:

• $1.35 million to the Flint Cultural Center Corporation (FCCC), including support for Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum and The Whiting;

• $1.25 million to the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA); and $650,000 to the Flint Institute of Music (FIM), including the Flint School of Performing Arts, Flint Symphony Orchestra and Flint Youth Theatre.

“In successful communities across the country, the arts are being used as part of an overall strategy to spur economic development, revitalize the core city and address social and educational issues,” said William S. White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation.

“Mott’s funding for the various institutions that make up the Flint Cultural Center is part of a larger Foundation effort to support Flint’s assets as the city continues to pursue its promise as a healthy, vital place to live and do business.”

Impetus for the creation of a cultural center in Genesee County has been attributed to a conversation between Charles Stewart Mott and Michael Gorman, then editor of The Flint Journal, who believed the center would be “a magnificent annuity” for the community. Not only was the Flint Cultural Center one of the nation’s first, it is unique in the United States for having been built entirely with private funding.

The latest Mott grant funds will be used to supplement core programming and dayto day operations of the various member institutions of the cultural center, enabling each to use other grants, gifts and resources to produce engaging programs for about 600,000 students and adults who attend or participate in activities each year.

“Through its ongoing commitment to the cultural center, the Mott Foundation not only carries on Flint’s vision of creating a beautiful, safe and inspiring environment for cultural activity, but boosts the spirits of everyone who cares about our community. Maintaining these services is especially important during these difficult economic conditions, particularly for the students of the 75 different area school districts who used our resources this past year,” said Jeanne Pepper, acting president and CEO of the Flint Cultural Center Corporation.

“Thanks to these grants, staff at the Whiting, Sloan Museum and Longway Planetarium likewise can commit to continuing education and community services in the arts, history and science in the year to come.”

Drawing visitors from more than half of Michigan’s 83 counties, the cultural center serves as a regional attraction. Increasingly, area schools rely on the Flint Cultural Center’s resources to supplement their performing and visual arts curriculum, and community groups utilize the 33-acre campus for popular summer fairs and festivals.

Like museums and performing arts venues throughout the country, the cultural center is experiencing difficulties in maintaining earned revenue and corporate support, while endowment income remains flat. To counter this trend, the various institutions have initiated a variety of costcutting measures in an attempt to preserve core programs.

The latest round of grants mark the eighth consecutive year of general operating support, totaling more than $21 million, provided by Mott to the FCCC, FIA and FIM.

The Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the U.S. and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally.

Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Pathways Out of Poverty. Besides Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg (South Africa) and London. The Foundation, with 2009 yearend assets of approximately $2.1 billion, made 469 grants totaling $109.3 million.

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